Before you begin reading, it is important to highlight who should read this post and why. The content discussed below is relevant for all types of exporters, including:
- First, the beginners who have been hearing about the horror stories of documentation going wrong and the consequences it may lead to
- Second, the exporters who continue to suffer business losses and penalties due to inefficient documentation procedures
- Third, the exporters who have already accomplished nearly efficient document preparation, but still want to learn how it can be improved further
So, you may already know some of the information in the following sections. However, you must read it as a complete step-to-step guide to ensure sound and hassle-free export documentation every single time.
Needs of Modern Export Documentation
Needless to say, it is important to be competitive in the modern global trade setup. For this, you must ensure a few things:
- Firstly, there should be no delays in shipping the consignments
- Secondly, you must accurately fulfil the importers’ requirements
- Thirdly, it is a necessity to be compliant with the export industry norms
- Besides, you must have the right communicational systems to make every consignment transit smoothly
Undoubtedly, the way you carry out the process of creating and obtaining the necessary export documents can play a vital role in this direction. To understand it better, you must know the drawbacks of the conventional documentation process:
- Human errors that cause repeated rejections and loss of money
- Paperwork not only consumes a lot of time but also makes information management tedious
- Maintaining fast and uninterrupted communication and document sharing with every party along the export chain
- Security and confidentiality issues that can cause serious blows to your export business in many ways
- Outdated means and procedures to track document statuses and to respond to queries and demands from the document-issuing bodies
And that doesn’t end here. Modern documentation also demands the incorporation of technology to address several needs. For example, you need to be technologically advanced to:
- Contact document-issuing bodies, most of which offer electronic document generation services
- Store, retrieve, update and utilize information in real-time and that too, without any loopholes in its integrity
- Make online bookings to get the best of services from shipping lines, warehouses, stevedores and other important parties
- Above all, to analyse, review and audit the trade operations to recognize the issues like unnecessary costs and expenses
In short, creating export documents is no more an ‘extra’ activity, but it can very well be the centre of your export business. Yet, it should not distract you from your core business activities.
Based on these requirements, the rest of the sections provide a short guide to bring efficacy to the export documentation process. Let’s begin:
Identify Your Specific Needs
The documentation needs of a dairy products exporter may differ from those of a meat and poultry export business. Likewise, you may have different requirements than an exporter exporting horticulture goods, if you deal in agriculture and grain products. Hence, the very first thing to do is specify your exact needs.
For example, you may need a phytosanitary certificate to export grains. On the other hand, you would need a health certificate to export eggs and egg products. Consult the experts in your industrial niche to understand the unique export documents and their prescribed formats.
Follow a Structured Approach
Start by being organized. For this, you must decide:
- Who is the best person in your team to coordinate with different parties, authorities and departments?
- How would you arrange centralised storage to keep your business data and information secure and easily accessible?
- The checklists of various documents, the authorities you need to contact to obtain them, their prescribed formats and templates and so on.
- What electronic channels would you use to apply for and share documents and also keep track of various requests?
Don’t Hesitate to Consult
Fortunately, your export business exists in a world where experts are willing to lend a helping hand. You can look forward to their assistance for several reasons:
- Firstly, to obtain complete trade supply chain consultation. It may help you to review your present documentation procedures and get customized solutions for whatever issues exist.
- Secondly, to hire managed services that may operate as your export documentation department.
- Thirdly, to train your employees on everything, from using an export documentation tool to accomplishing compliance with global trade standards.
Get a Good Software Solution
How about an international trade software that can address all possible issues you currently face? Undoubtedly, you would vote in for one such solution that:
- Acts as a centralized tool to operate and control every aspect of your export supply chain
- Effectively communicates with every important party across the supply chain, thereby eliminating your reliance on multiple and conventional channels
- Secures your data and business activities through numerous security deployments
- Significantly reduces paperwork, human errors, delays, compliance issues as well as those unnecessary costs
- Also, is easy to integrate with your existing IT infrastructure which already consists of several electronic business tools
To summarize, opting for one such software can indeed fulfil most of the requirements of today’s export businesses.
Do a Lot of Auditing
Finally, culminate each shipping activity with report preparation. Reporting is one great way to highlight and understand what went wrong, what can be improved, what were the good and bad points of the previous shipping and so on. Analysing the data so generated can help you take better decisions in the future. Needless to say, you can use software or an expert to carry out such auditing tasks.
If you look around, you may find several competitors in your niche doing better than you. It won’t be an exaggeration that one possible reason behind it could be their efficient export documentation processes. When you start following the guide above, you may experience a change in your business operations and profits as well.